Clockstoppers (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner10/10/2002

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 94 mins

Below average teen adventure that wants to be Spy Kids, but isn’t – a decent premise and one or two good moments, but ultimately something of a wasted opportunity.

Clockstoppers is directed by Jonathan Frakes, whom some of you may know as ‘Beardy Riker’ off of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Having previously helmed a couple of Star Trek movies, he makes the transition here to that tricky non-Star Trek stage of his directorial career, although he’s clearly not ready to move out of science-fiction altogether just yet.

Indeed, on the strength of Clockstoppers, he may just as well not have bothered, because while it’s competently directed and has a decent premise, it still comes across as a wasted opportunity and it’s hard not to wonder what someone like Spy Kids director Robert Rodriguez might have done with the same material.

Poor Use Of Time-Stopping Watch

Jesse Bradford (currently also starring in Swimfan) plays Zak, a high school student who accidentally stumbles upon a wristwatch that can stop time, invented by his inattentive father. Now, most teenagers, when presented with such an opportunity, would perhaps rob a bank or two, or use it to sneak into forbidden places.

Sadly, Zak lacks the necessary imagination, although he does use it to snog the foreign exchange girl (fair enough) and…er…to tidy up her lawn in record quick time. Ooooooh.

Naturally, one doesn’t invent something like a time-stopping wristwatch without Evil Government Types wanting to get their hands on it and this is where Michael “I was in Terminator, you know” Biehn comes in.

So, after Zak hooks up with the foreign exchange girl (after an inept chat-up scene and the afore-mentioned lawn-clearing incident) and they play a desperately unimaginative series of pranks with their new toy, they soon find themselves on the run from the Evil Government Types, aided by French Stewart (from Third Rock From The Sun), as one of Zak’s father’s ex-students.

Tedious And Disappointing

What Clockstoppers really lacks is a visually imaginative set piece or two to hold everything together. The idea is a good one and the clock-stopping effect is impressive too, but the film degenerates into a fairly tedious series of chase scenes, topped off with a disappointing finale.

The acting is passable, but nothing special. It’s too early to say whether Bradford (who made a great debut as a child actor in Soderbergh’s little-seen King of the Hill) will go the way of John Cusack or of Freddie Prinze Junior, but he’s a watchable, if somewhat bland actor.

However, it’s probably safe to say that Paula Garcés won’t be giving Reese Witherspoon any sleepless nights in the near future – she’s completely forgettable and there’s little or no chemistry between her and Bradford. In fact, the best characters are Bradford’s family and French Stewart, although that isn’t saying much.

Mercifully Short

Having said all that, it’s not un-watchable and it at least has a mercifully short running time, although you’re probably better off seeing if Spy Kids 2 is still playing anywhere. (Although, who knows? Perhaps Jesse Bradford has a hitherto-unsuspected DiCaprio-sized pre-teen fanbase… And perhaps not.)

At any rate, it’s hard not to come out of the film feeling that it could have been a lot better. File under ‘Missed opportunity’ and wait for the video.

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Clockstoppers (PG)
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Content updated: 13/12/2017 05:09

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